"People think, 'an eating disorder can never happen to us.' In fact, eating disorders affect people of all walks of life, all races, all ethnicities, all economic groups, all religions," Grefe says. "We've brought eating disorders out in the public, generally. But in the Hispanic and African-American communities, not so. There is real denial. People say, 'We don't have eating disorders in our group.' They are much more reluctant to admit it."
Eating disorders occur in higher rates among whites. It's difficult to know the prevalence of these disorders in various racial or ethnic group, says Grefe, because statistics are based on those who go for help. But some smaller studies show that illnesses like anorexia and bulimia and binge-eating disorder occur in every group. And calls to NEDA's help line confirm that, she adds.
People used to think that eating disorders only occurred in women, but it's now well-documented that men can develop the illness too.
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